[News] John Trudell: Human Being
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 9 11:08:25 EST 2015
/We worked closely with John Trudell for the first time when Alcatraz
was occupied. A transmitter was smuggled to the island, John was given a
crash course to get his (then necessary) FCC license to broadcast. He
became the vehicle for the Indigenous occupiers of the island to report
on a virtually daily basis about the occupation and their goals from
liberated territory. (this was a fine moment in KPFA and Pacifica
history - as it made real what self determination sounded like)./
December 9, 2015
John Trudell: Human Being
by Michael Donnelly <http://www.counterpunch.org/author/michael-donnelly/>
JohnTrudell_AlcatrazOccupation_AP Photo by Richard Drew
/John Trudell at Alcatraz Occupation. Photo: Richard Drew./
I don’t want to tell people how to remember me. I want people to
remember me as they remember me.” —John Trudell
“He got a fast horse. Comanche warriors made sure he got their best.
Hoofbeats thunder through the Time Ripple, cracking open the
curtains that divide the spirit worlds, casting sparks back our way.
Let’s gather them up and build fires.” — Greta Montagne//
There’s a reason John Trudell is in the Counterculture Hall of Fame.
The great Santee Sioux poet/philosopher/warrior
passed December 8, 2015 after a long bout with cancer. He was at peace,
surrounded by family and friends; many had tirelessly helped care for
John thru this transition. He lived a magnificent life. He was 69.
After serving in the Navy in Vietnam, John was instrumental in the
1969-70 Alcatraz Occupation by the Indians of All Tribes. Alcatraz
jump-started the Native Rights Movement. He went on to be a founder of
the American Indian Movement (AIM) and became its only Chairman.
*Termination and Restoration*
“If you can’t change them, absorb them until they simply disappear
into the mainstream culture. …In Washington’s infinite wisdom, it
was decided that tribes should no longer be tribes, never mind that
they had been tribes for thousands of years.”— Sen. Ben Nighthorse
One of AIM’s greatest accomplishments on John’s watch was drawing
attention to the odious policy of Tribal Termination
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_termination_policy> and the
eventual rollback of Termination and the Restoration of tribal rights
and some Native lands. AIM walked (The Longest Walk
California to DC and occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
headquarters building. While there, AIM activists discovered secret
plans to Terminate even more tribes and blew the entire thing wide open.
John paid a serious price for his activism. His buddy Kris Kristofferson
wrote this song Johnny Lobo
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDt_3JA4GBQ> about it.
Trudell went on to become a noted environmental activist. He was
arrested along with his roommate Jackson Browne, counterculture icon
Wavy Gravy and 2000 others at a protest against the Diablo Canyon
Nuclear plant in California. Famously, they somehow got a guitar
smuggled into the men arrestees holding area and started a concert. That
led to his friend and ally Bonnie Raitt, Holly Near and others demanding
equal rights to a guitar for the women’s area. Yep. They got their
guitar and concert, as well.
John was an outspoken advocate for the rights of other species. He
quickly joined in the forest protection efforts of the 1980s and the
effort to curtail fossil fuel use and carbon pollution. He supported the
efforts to defend Native Fishing rights.
John became an actor in many of the seminal pro-Native movies of the
late 20^th Century. Perhaps his most complete role was in the
contemporary western mystery
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderheart> Thunderheart. He also was
in the great film Smoke Signals
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_Signals_%28film%29>, based on a
Sherman Alexie short story. And, my absolute favorite – Powwow Highway.
Trudell was a gifted linguist. In his amazing 17,000-page FBI dossier,
it becomes clear that the FBI feared his verbal skill the most.
“Articulate” appears repeatedly.
John first started setting his poetry to music in collaboration with his
good friend, the legendary Kiowa guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. Their
collaboration AKA Graffiti Man
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyk4HiGr3CM> is superb. Bob Dylan
called it the best album of the year.
John’s life-long buddy Quiltman, a T’ygh longhouse drummer/singer, who
signs Native songs on that album and John began their effort as Tribal
Voice and set about criss-crossing Indian Country performing and doing Q
& A with Native youth. Many young Natives see John Trudell as “the Elder
me and my friends listen to the most.”
From there, it all evolved into Bad Dog, with John and Quilt being
joined by the great guitarist Mark Shark, Rocky Eckstein, Billy Watts
and others. Bad Dog put out numerous CDs, Including the superb Wazi’s
earlier this year. John and Bad Dog recorded up to the end – even
recording three songs from the hospital the day before Thanksgiving.
Coming from a culture that has been devastated by alcohol, John became
an early advocate for Cannabis as a healing Earth Medicine. John and Bad
Dog performed at many pro-Cannabis events across the globe. They are
Quickly, John saw the potential in the restoration of America’s
Industrial Hemp industry. In 2012, he and another of his many activist
friends Willie Nelson co-founded the Hempstead Project Heart, which
advocates for industrial hemp as the eco-friendly alternative source of
fiber and food.
There is so much more. I’ve barely touched on all of John’s Gaian
activism. Suffice to say the world is a far better place because of John
Trudell. He touched the hearts of thousands. An autobiography is in the
Coyote to the end, John had someone make one final post to his Facebook
page yesterday afternoon after he passed.
It read, simply:
“My ride showed up”
“Celebrate Love. Celebrate Life”
February 15, 1946 – December 8, 2015
PS My dad always said, “The hardest part about growing old is your
friends dying.” And when your friend is also your hero…
I’ve known about the illness from the beginning. One memory I’ll cherish
is when Quiltman and I went down to the Bay Area to hang with John two
springs ago. John was in the thick of treatment and holing up. On a
beautiful sunny day, John, Quilt and I walked up and down Haight Street
in silence, all lost in our memories.
It’s hard to put in words just what John means to me and the planet, as
I’m sure it is for all John touched in his remarkable life. I’ll sure
miss him and our far-ranging conversations.
As I noted, the world is a far better place because of John Trudell. I
am a better human because of John Trudell.
Ride with the Wind, Brother Coyote
/*MICHAEL DONNELLY* has been an environmental activist since before that
first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient
Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting
numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo at aol.com
<mailto:pahtoo at aol.com>/
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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